Going back to school can be scary to an adult who has been out of the classroom for many years. That’s why Bethel’s online programs fit so well with working adults. What a great way to get started or finish a degree! Because many students have a fear of the unknown class expectations or computer technology, it is my job as the instructor to put them at ease and guide them through the maze of technology and the learning processes.
My philosophy on online instruction is to put students at ease and always be mindful that they have many responsibilities and a life outside the online classroom. I try to be flexible and work with them, since most are trying to balance jobs, family life and school. As a Christian sister to my students, I feel it is my responsibility to be a friend, mentor and uplifting guide not only in their education, but in their personal life. I find that when I post an inspirational video clip, it seems to be just what was needed for at least one student. When I receive an email telling me, “That is what I needed to hear right now,”’ I know God had a hand in my selection of videos and time of sending. I truly believe that nothing is an accident and the students that I have are in my class for a reason. I need to be aware and open to how I can help them.
Since all facilitators have been on the other side of the desk as a student, we need to find ways to help each student learn and engage. Some may need constant attention, while others are just fine completing their online studies without much interaction with the instructor. Either way, my phone line is always available to students who need a listening ear, even if it is not about education. If I know that a student is dealing with a stressful situation or has lost a family member, I will try to email them several times to see how they are doing. I also may call them on the phone, if it seems the right way to reach out to them.
It is important to meet students on their level, and to truly care. Who knows, someday the table may be turned and I may need their help. :o)